Book Ban Data


The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has released new data documenting book challenges throughout the United States, finding that challenges of unique titles surged 65% in 2023 compared to 2022 numbers, reaching the highest level ever documented by ALA. Read the full announcement.

OIF documented 4,240 unique book titles targeted for censorship, as well as 1,247 demands to censor library books, materials, and resources in 2023. Four key trends emerged from the data gathered from 2023 censorship reports:

  • Pressure groups in 2023 focused on public libraries in addition to targeting school libraries. The number of titles targeted for censorship at public libraries increased by 92% over the previous year, accounting for about 46% of all book challenges in 2023; school libraries saw an 11% increase over 2022 numbers.
  • Groups and individuals demanding the censorship of multiple titles, often dozens or hundreds at a time, drove this surge.
  • Titles representing the voices and lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC individuals made up 47% of those targeted in censorship attempts.
  • There were attempts to censor more than 100 titles in each of these 17 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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Note: a previous version of one of these graphics incorrectly referenced the number of unique titles challenged in 2021 as 1,651. In fact, the actual number is 1,858 unique titles challenged. 1,651 is the number of unique titles challenged during the preliminary period between January 1 and August 31, 2022, originally reported in September 2022.

Take Action

Unite Against Book Bans is ALA's national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship with an array of resources, tools, and actions.

Reporting censorship and challenges to materials, resources, and services is vital to defending library resources and to protect against challenges before they happen.

Additional Resources

Lists of frequently challenged books compiled by ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom to inform the public about censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools.

A clearinghouse of resources to assist library workers and advocates in responding to and supporting others facing those challenges.

Documents designated by the Intellectual Freedom Committee as Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights and background statements detailing the philosophy and history of each.


ALA compiles data on book challenges from reports filed by library professionals in the field and from news stories published throughout the United States. Because many book challenges are not reported to ALA or covered by the press, the data compiled by ALA represents a snapshot of book censorship.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict access to materials or services based upon the objections of a person or group. A challenge to a title may result in access to it being retained, restricted, or withdrawn entirely. Restrictions on access may include relocating the book to a section of the library intended for an older age group than the book is intended for, labeling it with a prejudicial content warning or rating, taking it out of the online catalog so it has to be requested from a staff member, removing it from open and freely browsable stacks, or requiring parental permission to check it out.

Challenges do not simply involve people expressing their point of view, but rather are an attempt to remove materials from curricula or libraries, thereby curtailing the ability of others to access information, views, ideas, expressions, and stories. A formal challenge leads to the reconsideration of the decision to purchase the material or offer the service. This process is governed by a board-approved policy and includes review of the material as a whole to assess if it is aligned with the library or school's mission and meets the criteria delineated in its selection, display, or programming policy (as applicable).

A book is banned when it is entirely removed from a collection in response to a formal or informal challenge.

Any reduction in access to library materials based on an individual or group's believe that they are harmful or offensive is an act of censorship. ALA does not consider weeding of an item based on criteria defined in a library or school district's policy to be a ban, nor do we characterize a temporary reduction in access resulting from the need to review materials to be a ban.